Examples of Work Underway at DU

DU faculty and administrators have already taken steps to advance workload equity, including those detailed in this report. Notable accomplishments at the campus level include:

  • Workload Equity Committee (WEC) creation and convening (Fall 2020)
  • WEC presentations at Dean’s Council (January 2020, March 2022)
  • Faculty Affairs Associate Deans (FAAD) huddle on Workload Equity (March 2021, April 2021)
  • May 2021 report Increasing Teaching Equity for Faculty Thriving and Student Success, produced by the CAHSS Enrollment and Teaching Capacity Review Committee (see Appendix G). This extensive, data-driven report articulates principles and contextual considerations for establishing teaching equity in CAHSS. It recommends the following:
    • Further develop and launch quantitative dashboard(s), qualitative contextual template, and guiding reference document for use by the Dean and department chairs and directors
    • Use the data and context as a starting point for conversations around allocation of faculty positions
    • Support equity through permanent, department-based course releases
    • Use data and context to evaluate distribution of common curriculum targets
    • Address courses with low enrollments equitably

The CAHSS report does not explicitly consider areas of faculty work beyond classroom teaching that would warrant
consideration for workload equity adjustments/equivalencies. These include student advising, mentoring, relational care work, and community and university service. Nor did it consider the non-CAHSS/non-department based academic activities of its rostered faculty (e.g., administrative work on behalf of interdisciplinary programming as well as other faculty director work that has drawn attention in Faculty Senate). The report does imply, however, that such a holistic evaluation of faculty work is required in order to achieve true workload equity.

Department Equity Action Planning through VPFA

In Spring 2022, Faculty Affairs launched an 18-month Department Equity Action Planning (DEAP) pilot project aiming to (a) increase the number of routine work practices that department faculty enact to ensure equity, (b) enhance department conditions known to positively enhance equity, and (c) improve the readiness of department faculty to ensure equity in division of labor. This project supports the work of the WEC and guides departments through a research-based change process where they interrogate their own practices and policies around ways workload is distributed, taken-up, make visible, and rewarded. DEAPs are funded through R1 Our Way.

The four inaugural DEAPs are Higher Education in Morgridge College of Education; Graduate School of Professional Psychology; Languages, Literatures, and Cultures in the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; and Spanish Languages, Literatures, and Cultures in the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. After attending workshops with KerryAnn O’Meara and Joya Misra, they will create dashboards to increase transparency and create a plan to improve conditions for faculty in their department or unit.

Dashboards to Date at DU

Several nascent efforts at DU seek to quantitatively track distribution of service workloads within units and departments. Along with transparency, dashboards provide data to stimulate faculty discussion around what service looks like in their context and how to measure it. Dashboards also provide information for chairs and deans to better monitor and balance service workloads. However, no current efforts at DU yet fit the criteria of an accessible and easily visible online dashboard. Instead, current dashboards are non-dynamic, non-centralized tools that are not easily shareable—such as Word documents and Excel spreadsheets. Some units at DU do not have any structured approaches to tracking service efforts.

The tracking efforts of different units and departments reflect different approaches and data specificity. For example, Morgridge College of Education’s Higher Education Department (HED) prepares a Microsoft Word document with a (static) table that lists faculty member committees, service assignments, and associated timeframes by quarter and year. The table is shared at a spring quarter department meeting and revisited throughout the year to determine service loads for the following academic year.

Since 2021, University Libraries has used a (static) Excel table populated by Associate Deans to list Library and University committees and service tasks undertaken by faculty. Available roles are listed and awarded scores to aggregate a point total that reflects an estimate of overall service contributions (e.g., Chair: 3 points, Member: 2 points, Convener of meeting: 1 point, Part of job: 1 point). Names and contributions are visible to all faculty members. Presently, the dashboard is used by Associate Deans to identify new committee members and to rotate long-serving or over-committed faculty members. Other examples include the Languages, Literatures, and Cultures department; the Lamont School of Music; and University College. Please see Appendix D for sample dashboards.

These examples suggest several options in terms of the amount and granularity of workload data. A centralized structure for online dashboards at DU would provide customizable options that could be accessible to all faculty members and department leadership. MyDU could host such a tool, thus enabling access for administrators, deans, and faculty members. The tool may also draw information from Activity Insight or other sources of service reporting.

Case Study: Library Use of Dashboards

When paired with deliberative processes, dashboards can help units engage in sometimes difficult conversations about the scope and distribution of collective workload. While they do not substitute for faculty-led engagement with the data, they do provide a common set of indicators around which such engagement can occur.

For example, University Libraries faculty took up workload equity in a series of conversations. These led to creation of a dashboard, which includes division-level and institutional-level service. A group of six faculty members, including the Library’s two Associate Deans, used the ACE report to inform dashboard construction and facilitate conversations with faculty on what to include and how to use dashboard data. These discussions provided opportunities to work through questions, assumptions, or differences in opinion, helping clarify and better define what qualifies as “service” for University Libraries faculty. The faculty decided that the dashboard will not to be used for performance evaluation, but rather to establish transparency and inform decision making affecting faculty member workloads.

Going forward, University Libraries will pilot the dashboard as a tool to establish a committee rotation schedule and to inform committee assignments. The dashboard is seen as one piece of information used in these decisions, with the understanding that division and institutional-level service are just some of the factors that should be considered in the process of establishing and evaluating faculty workload. Libraries faculty also plans to discuss how and if the dashboard should be expanded to include other types or levels of service.

Workload Policies at DU

According to results from the 2022 Faculty Senate survey on workload equity, there is a dearth of policy related to workload equity at DU (see Appendices A & B). However, some units have generated instructive documents and proposals. In April of 2021, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies circulated a draft of Proposed Measures to Improve Workload Equity. The document was prompted by the ongoing efforts of the WEC committee and visits from KerryAnn O’Meara, as well as previous attempts to articulate service expectations at Korbel relative to rank, series, and inclination. The document proposes a suite of possible solutions including dashboards, a service audit, etc. Please see Appendix F.

Other units have had workload discussions, including those prompted by the survey and ongoing programming. Some changes are a combination of policy and practice, such as a Spring 2022 request by the CAHSS Dean for department chairs to make transparent the mechanisms by which they are assigning merit ratings. This builds on their 2021 CAHSS Enrollment and Teaching Capacity Review Committee Report (see Appendix G). Similarly, some units have discussed the possibility of quarter-long “service sabbaticals,” though actual implementation is unclear.

Pairing Policies and Practices at DU

Necessary and sometimes difficult conversations about workload equity complement campus, unit, and department-level policy changes. Many departments and units engaged workload equity questions explicitly for the first time as part of the process of completing the faculty senate survey. See Appendix B for quantitative data from this process. WEC member Brian Majestic followed up with departments that indicated they were actively working on equity in their unit, including RSECS, NSM, the Writing Program, and University Libraries. Progress differs by context, especially as these programs range from research-intensive to teaching-focused and carry different types of workloads. However, they include:

  • Reducing teaching loads for those in certain administrative positions (e.g., program directors, new program development, assessment, co-chairs, curricular positions)
  • Engaging in new course development or (via buy-out) certain types of research including some “intensive grant proposals that benefit an entire department”
  • Additional compensation for people with additional service responsibilities
  • Creation of a workload equity group and use of a service dashboard
  • Survey administration and listening sessions related to service and workload equity, to the level of “soul-searching” in some areas

Generally, there is an appetite for solving the very difficult problem of workload equity, but there is also a hunger for more guidance and understanding of campus-level expectations.

These tools include deliberative decision making. Appendix E includes some guidance shared with departments as they engaged in the Faculty Senate Workload Equity survey to help them navigate these conversations. It may be useful for departments as they discuss this report.

We know workload equity discussions can surface existing tensions around how work is currently distributed, recognized, and rewarded. However, we hope the tools, research and recommendations contained in this report will help faculty take the action to learn and act on workload equity in their department, unity, and DU at large.